As you probably have been told many times turn out is the outward or external rotation of the leg at the hip joint. It
is absolutely vital that the line of the leg from the hip down is maintained, as rotation at the knee and ankle are potentially
very dangerous. Turn out at the hip is measured not when the hip is flexed, as in the 'frog' position, but with the thigh
in the straight or extended position. These excersizes can help to improve your turnout!
1. Lie on your back with the
knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor, legs parallel, holding a small cushion between your thighs. Hands
should be placed on the sides of the pelvis so you can feel that it is correctly aligned. (You may need someone else to help
you with this at first if you are not sure where it should be. Also don’t do this with your hair in a bun as it makes
it difficult to place the head correctly.) Engage the abdominal muscles by drawing the naval back to the spine allowing the
pelvis to start to tilt under. Now increase the tilt by squeezing your lower glutial muscles and draw the body up peeling
your back off the floor one vertebra at a time until your body and upper thighs are in line, still maintaining the squeeze
in the inner thighs on the cushion. Now bring both arms forward and upwards over the head. Lower the body, this time rolling
down through the spine one vertebrae at a time, stopping at the point where the pelvis is still just tilted and the navel
still drawn back to the spine. Bring the hands to the side of the head and curl the upper back off the floor maintaining the
squeeze in the abdominals. Extend the arms just past the knees and squeeze deeply into the abdominals for a count of two.
Then rotate the body lifting the left shoulder slightly further off the floor and reaching both arms slightly to the right
of your right knee. Again hold this for a count of two. Now bring the body back to the centre. Repeat the rotation to the
left. Finally having brought the body back to centre lower to the starting position. The whole exercise should be done slowly
and clearly, maintaining the squeeze on the cushion throughout. The movements are quite small, but should be strong and clearly
felt. This can be done up to 10 times in succession. However, to start with only do as many as you feel able. Remember, as
with most things in dance, quality is more important than quantity
2. Lie face down on the floor (you may require an
exercise mat if you find this uncomfortable) with your forehead resting on the back of your hands, your legs parallel. Breathe
out and try to draw your naval to your spine and feel the lower glutial muscles engaging. (Do keep breathing though.) Lift
the straight leg just off the floor, still parallel, being careful not to lift the hip (Both sides of the front of the pelvis
should stay in contact with the floor or mat.) Keeping the upper leg held in this position bend at the knee as far as possible,
bringing the foot (which should be relaxed, not pointed) towards the buttocks. This action should be strong and controlled.
Try to imagine you have an orange between your upper and lower leg and you are squeezing the juice out of it. Straighten the
leg and relax it down. Again this can be repeated slowly up to 10 times with each leg.
3. Lying on your side with your
pelvis vertical and your underneath arm stretching out with your head resting on it, place the foot of your top leg in front
to support your body. Use your abdominal muscles on your lower side to try and hold your spine straight. Now lift the lower
leg off the floor, turning it out and pointing your foot, and circle it en dehors up to 10 times. Then repeat en dedans before
lowering the leg. The movement should again be slow and controlled using the inside thigh muscles to maintain the lift off
the floor. Repeat the whole exercise with the other leg.
4. Sit on the edge of a table and lie back with a cushion
under your head. Bring both knees up to your chest. Now draw the naval into the spine so the whole back is making contact
with the table. Let the left leg hang down over the edge of the table, holding your right gently to your chest, maintaining
the hold in your abdominal muscles. Maintain the position for up to 3 minutes. The weight of the leg will gently stretch out
quadriceps and the front of the hip. Repeat with the other leg.
Having done the above exercises try to apply them to
your class work. Stand with the feet turned out in first, checking that the pelvis is correctly aligned, engaging the abdominal
muscles by lifting from your pelvic floor to your naval. You should feel that your hamstrings are gently activated to maintain
the weight placement of the body. If you have hyper extended legs try to avoid pushing back into the knees, rather keep the
line of the leg straight. Demi-pliť trying to maintain the pelvis in its correct placement, thinking of opening the thighs
so the knees stay in line with the toes. As you stretch up feel like you are trying to rotate both thighs outwards, without
disturbing the line of the pelvis. Repeat this exercise up to 10 times, concentrating on the feeling you using all the muscles
you worked in the previous exercises. Again you may need someone to help you with your alignment. Don’t try and look
down, as placement of the head is vital to the feeling of correct overall placement.